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Kathy Griffin on Donald Trump: 'He broke me'

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A contrite and sometimes teary-eyed Kathy Griffin held a press conference Friday to reveal she’s been bullied by the White House and has endured numerous death threats as a result of her controversial photo mocking President Donald Trump.

Griffin said she’s now the subject of a Secret Service investigation for a threat against the president after she was photographed holding a bloody bust of Trump — which she described as being created in minutes with a Styrofoam head covered in ketchup.

“Sometimes you want to tell people a joke that’s out there and a little crazy,” Griffin said in front of a massive bank of reporters and cameramen in Woodland Hills, California. “My apology stands. I feel horrible. If I could re-do the whole thing, I would do it with a blow-up doll and no ketchup.”

When asked to describe the reason she agreed to the photo shoot, Griffin said she was thinking about how she could “get in trouble. Let’s give them something to talk about. Of course, you have to make fun of Trump.”

But instead of getting accolades for her edgy commentary — a brand of comedy that Griffin says she has long trafficked in while touring America and performing overseas for troops — the 56-year-old comedienne and occasional TV personality says she can’t leave her home and has lost numerous gigs. Five venues to date have canceled on her, including a casino in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after Trump tweeted, “Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself. My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!”

Griffin has retained a criminal attorney to help with the Secret Service investigation.

“I don’t think I will have a career after this,” Griffin said, tearing up. “He [Trump] broke me. He broke me.” She then added, “Trump is trying to ruin my life. [If] you don’t stand up you get run over… This is America. You shouldn’t have to die for it. Death threats are constant and specific. Today it’s me. Tomorrow it could be you.”

Griffin also believes sexism is behind much of the conservative backlash. “This is a woman thing,” she said. “I’m sorry if you don’t agree with that but I live with it. I’ve been living with this my entire career.”

When asked what she thought of Anderson Cooper’s statement denouncing her photo shoot, she immediately teared up and whispered, “It hurt.” CNN fired Griffin from her annual New Year’s Eve appearances after her longtime co-host Anderson tweeted, “I am appalled by the photo shoot Kathy Griffin took part in. It is clearly disgusting and completely inappropriate.”

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The press conference held in the office of civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom began with Bloom saying Griffin was only attempting to turn Trump’s own brash insults back on him. “During the campaign, Donald Trump said of a female reporter who had called him out on misogyny, ‘you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.’ Kathy did not forget that disgusting remark, for which Trump never apologized.” (Trump made that comment about former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, after Kelly questioned the then-nominee about calling women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals,” among other slurs.)

“Kathy teamed up recently with a photographer to mock Trump, our Mocker in Chief,” Bloom continued. “What would it look like if his own insults were turned on him? Wearing a pussy bow blouse in a nod to his caught-on-tape bragging about grabbing women’s genitals, she held a Trump mask with fake blood coming out of its eyes. … It was a parody of Trump’s own sexist remarks, taken to an extreme, absurdist visual. Like many edgy works of artistic expression, the photo could be subject to different interpretations, and Kathy was fine with that. But Kathy never imagined that it could be misinterpreted as a threat of violence against Trump. That was never what she intended. She had never threatened or committed an act of violence against anyone. Her life’s work is to make people laugh. As soon as she learned this is how it’s being viewed, she was horrified, took down the picture, asked the photographer to take it down, and as fast as possible, videoed a no-excuses, heartfelt apology. And literally begged for forgiveness.”

Bloom added, “That should be the end of it. The message is clear … make fun of the president, lose your job. And that’s what happened to Kathy and more. For the first time in history that we are aware of, the President of the United States and his family has personally attempted to ruin a comedian.”

Bloom also spoke of a double standard against Griffin versus men who mock a president. “Many male artists have created far more disturbing imagery. A Marilyn Manson music video shows him beheading a Trump figure. The band Municipal Waste has an image of Trump with a bloody gunshot to his head on a band T-shirt. The band GWAR has had violent images like this for many presidents. They’re all just considered bad boys. Unlike these male artists, Kathy has apologized. Unlike these male artists, Kathy has endured the most powerful man in America, and his family, using their power to target her and her employers after she apologized.”